Number Puzzles?

My obsession with number puzzles involves two of my favorite things - numbers and Excel! It all started in 2005 when I worked over the summer as a bank teller. As hired summer help, I wasn't burdened with the normal job responsibilities like the full time employees, and working at small branches meant that I had hours to kill. Just a man and his thoughts... and an old computer without games or internet. But I did have Excel!

To amuse myself, I created several games within Excel like Minesweeper and other classics. Years after the Sudoku craze took over the world, I threw my hat into the ring with my own number puzzle, Kansuko. Check out my published books below.


Kansuko is a game based off of classic Sudoku, but with a few interesting changes. I cut the Sudoku grid into thirds, added a new 'sum' column, and tweaked the constraints. I used Excel to help create the finished puzzles and removed numbers by hand to create the beginning puzzle. Eventually, Excel helped do that part as well, removing numbers and ranking puzzles for me.

I happened to meet a book publisher at a crawfish boil, and after a lot of work, Kansuko the book came out in September 2011 (available in Barnes & Noble stores and online). Since then, Kansuko has been featured in newspapers, magazines, and in classrooms around the world. Contact me if you'd like to use Kansuko for your publication or educational purposes!

An adapted form of Kansuko also took home 2nd place in Big Leap's Games That Can Make All Kids Smarter competition, designed to give children from the world access to the power of games to boost reasoning, logic, and STEM skills.

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SumSearch was the next book to follow! A simple concept, little tricky getting it work. It's like a word search, but with numbers! I loved making this puzzle as it added new challenges with visualization and game play. It sounds easy, but a lot of time went in to ensuring that each puzzle would solveable and enjoyable. How many combinations should each puzzle have, which combinations intersect and how, what is the distribution of 3x, 4x, 5x, etc.

SumSearch has found a wide audience, with the simplicity particularly engaging for younger children. These puzzles have also been adapted to work in publications and educational environments to help entertain and reinforce simple addition!

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